General Hospital is a long-running soap opera which has been on ABC for nearly six decades. Set in the fictional town of Port Charles, New York, the show has had a variety of characters and storylines.
The series premiered on April 1, 1963. Its first two years were filmed at Sunset Gower Studios in Los Angeles. However, the show began to move to Hollywood in the mid-1980s. This was when it moved to Sunset Gower’s sister studios, Prospect Studios.
During the late 70s, the series began to include supernatural elements. The show also started to focus more on social issues. In particular, the storylines involving the relationships of various families. These included the noble Cassadines and the Quartermaine family.
General Hospital also starred many popular actors, including Finola Hughes, Rachel Ames, and Tristan Rogers. Although the show has remained popular for several decades, its ratings have been lagging since the early 1990s.
During its primetime days, General Hospital was among the top five soap operas in the United States, earning the title of the number one daytime soap opera from 1979 to 1988. But it faced stiff competition from CBS’s Another World and The Price Is Right, as well as Guiding Light. As a result, the show was prepared to be cancelled after its poor Nielsen ratings.
By the 1990s, however, General Hospital had gained critical acclaim for its ability to handle controversial social issues. For example, in 1997, the cast participated in a “Nurses’ Ball” to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. At the same time, Sonny Corinthos donated an extra wing for AIDS research. Other celebrities such as Michael Sutton and Jane Harland appeared on the show.
Several writers worked on the show. Wendy Riche was a key contributor, and she has written several scripts for the show. She also took over as the executive producer of the show in 1992. Among her accomplishments is the start of the heart transplant storyline in 1994.
During the 90s, General Hospital also aired on Montreal’s CFCF-DT, which had a good signal in Vermont and Plattsburgh. Some of the most notable episodes from this era included the wedding of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber. Their 1981 ceremony, which still holds the record for the highest-rated daytime serial in the history of American soap operas, received 30 million viewers.
When General Hospital began to drop in popularity in the 1990s, a number of its stars left the show. One of the most popular was Emily McLaughlin, who played the role of Nurse Jessie Brewer. Her role was replaced by Rachel Ames.
While General Hospital was considered a successful soap opera, it was also considered one of the most expensive. For that reason, the producers of the show were given six months to improve their ratings. During this period, the network dropped the previews of the next episode, and introduced daily sponsor tags before the show’s name.
In April 2009, General Hospital began broadcasting in high definition. However, in June of that year, the series was destroyed by fire.